e-cigarettes sans nicotine less harmful alternative?
The 6th Global Forum on Nicotine (GFN) recently held in Warsaw last week focussed on safer nicotine products by examining the rapidly developing science in relation to nicotine and its use, this year’s theme is ‘It’s time to talk about nicotine.’
The 6th Global Forum on Nicotine (GFN) recently held in Warsaw last week focussed on safer nicotine products by examining the rapidly developing science in relation to nicotine and its use, this year's theme is 'It's time to talk about nicotine.'
At a time when India looks at banning e-cigarettes, a viable choice for smokers all over India, experts at GFN highlighted that 'Quit or die' is no longer the only option for those who cannot give up nicotine. Safer nicotine products such as e-cigarettes offer another way – 'Quit or Try' by providing an alternative without active carcinogens.
In UK 1.7 million former smokers converted from smoking to exclusively vaping instead. As India tightens the noose on tobacco consumption, e-cigarettes have become the front and center of conversations with arguments emerging from both sides of the aisle. For a country that is home to an estimated 11.2% of the world's smokers, comprising the second largest smoking population, India needs more than blanket bans to address the tobacco crisis and that too of the alternatives said an expert.
Dr Konstantinos E Farsalino, Research Fellow at the Onassis Cardiac Surgery Center in Athens-Greece who has been conducting laboratory and clinical research on e-cigarettes as a principal investigator since 2011, stated, "Tobacco harm reduction has been one of the most promising strategies in public health.
As public healthcare professionals, it is our ethical duty to provide proper guidance and the right to have access to a less harmful alternative to our smoking population. India represents a highly complex public health landscape in terms of smoking and tobacco use. Tobacco use involves not only smoking boxed tobacco cigarettes but also other local forms, which is why the government must consider harm reduction alternatives to provide consumers a viable alternative."
The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates there are more than one billion smokers globally and predict one billion premature smoking-related deaths during the 21st century. For every person who dies from a smoking-related disease, there are around 20 people living and suffering from a smoking-related disease.
As India inches closer towards its goal of reducing the tobacco burden, it is ironic for e-cigarettes and harm reduction products to be banned, even as legal sale of tobacco cigarettes and other harmful tobacco product continues. While the world is talking about fighting tobacco with evidence-based solutions, is India moving away from the root of the problem? Maybe it's time to rethink if banning the only alternative available to smokers will help us fight the tobacco menace, said the speakers at the conference.